On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to be invited to see 4 blue plaques to famous women unveiled in Ipswich: illustrator Margaret Tempest; archaeologist Nina Layard; suffragette Constance Andrews; and socialist and Mayor, Mary Whitmore. These additions mean that now Ipswich has 17 blue plaques commemorating men and 6 for women. Not gender balance – but better than the previous 17-2 ratio.
Coming home I wondered anew why we in Woodbridge have no blue plaques at all to commemorate any famous, inspirational or unusual women with a Woodbridge connection? The Woodbridge Society has put up 8 – but all to men. Surely it is time to start redressing the balance?
I would like to nominate:
Margaret Agnes Rope, the famous Arts & Crafts stained glass artists trained at Birmingham School of Art, and was taught by Henry Payne. She initially worked in Shrewsbury, but in 1911 went work at the Glass House in Fulham. In 1923 she took the veil, entering the Carmelite nunnery in Woodbridge, Suffolk. A feisty woman who rode around England on a motorbike in 1918, smoking cigars and getting herself arrested, Margaret was one of the first women to make her living from art. After becoming a Carmelite she continued to work as stained glass artist, and supporting her nunnery through her stained glass window-making thereafter – both in Woodbridge, and when her order moved from there in 1939. Her greatest work is considered to be the Shrewsbury Cathedral west window. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Agnes_Rope
Archivist and preserver of local records Lilian Jane Redstone (1885-1955), Born in Woodbridge, Lilian Redstone was the first Ipswich and East Suffolk Joint Archivist, adviser to academics world-wide and author of numerous publications. She received an MBE in 1919 for her work during WW1 in the Historical Records Section at the Ministry of Munitions. During WW2 she worked to salvage and preserve documents moving them to places of safety. Her life work is now considered to be the foundation of the Suffolk Records Office. http://ipswichwomeninhistory.co.uk/1800s/lilian-jane-redstone/
Enid Blyton 1897-1968 Bestselling children’s author. Due to attend the Guildhall School of Music, it was while staying with friends at Seckford Hall that Blyton changed her mind. The hall with its ‘haunted’ bedroom, secret passage and surrounding farmland was a source of great delight and inspiration. After helping her friend Ida Hunt at Woodbridge Congregational Sunday School, Enid decided on a career in teaching, trained as a primary school teacher in Ipswich, started writing – and the rest is history. http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/chronology.php
Anne Knight –1792 – 1860. Quaker children’s writer and educationalist. Eldest child of Woodbridge leather-cutter Jonathan Waspe, she married a London, returning to Woodbridge after his early death to keep a school in Woodbridge. She was a friend of the poet Bernard Barton, who lodged with her and her sisters. She is therefore mentioned several times in letters to him from Charles Lamb. Anne Knight was the author of several children’s books, including School-Room Lyrics (1846), and probably Poetic Gleanings (1827), Mornings in the Library (London, c. 1828, with an introductory poem by Bernard Barton), Mary Gray. A tale for little girls (also including a Barton verse, London, 1831), and Lyriques français: pour la jeunesse. Morceaux choisis par A. K. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Knight_(children%27s_writer)
Finally, there’s the wonderful Elizabeth With – about whom I am trying to find out more, than this glorious snippet: